Dec 13

Touches and Targets: Week 14 NFL Review

If you’ve been reading, you know the score. We go deeper into the box scores each week to review workload distribution and how it may impact players moving forward.

With the season nearing an end, there is a clear ‘who can help me now’ focus to this week’s piece. And, to that end… on to the bullets.

Sammy Watkins is thankful to be healthy and back in the lineup for Buffalo (Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images North America).

Sammy Watkins is thankful to be healthy and back in the lineup for Buffalo (Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images North America).

Touches and Targets: Week 14 NFL Reivew

  • Sammy Watkins found the endzone in the snow, posting 54 yards on six targets. After playing 68.1% of the snaps last week, he was on the field for 94.2% of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 14, up from 68.1% the week prior. Its as good a sign as any that he’s back to full health and ready to go for your stretch run. You’ll want to consider his value if Cardale Jones is inserted as the starter, but if all things are the status quo – and they are for Week 15 – it looks like Watkins is back on the WR2/3 radar to close the season.
  • Travis Kelce went over 100 yards for the fourth straight week, doing so on five catches and eight targets. During that same stretch, he’s had at least eight looks in every game and is a focal point of the KC passing attack, such as it. Lock him in as a top option against a tough Titans defense again next week.
  • Meantime, in Jeremy Maclin‘s (three targets) return, Tyreek Hill maintained a healthy six looks and carried the ball once, suggesting that he’s a safe play in the closing weeks of the season as well.
  • Not much went right for Cleveland’s offense in RGIII’s return to action, but it should be noted that Corey Coleman was targeted 11 times on 28 Griffin passes this week. Terrelle Pryor had just three looks.
  • I’m not expecting Theo Riddick to miss another week, so this is only passingly relevant… but, Dwayne Washington led the backfield with 16 carries (64 yards), while Zach Zenner had seven.
  • Cameron Meredith led the Bears with eight targets, though the volume was evenly distributed (Josh Bellamy seven, Daniel Brown six). Looking ahead to Week 15, Alshon Jeffery is expected to be back in the lineup with his suspension now behind him. With 8+ targets in two of his last three games, Meredith is the best bet to stay relevant upon that return but I’m probably fading the full trio if the expectation is that Jeffery will get meaningful snaps.
  • In his first game with the Broncos, Justin Forsett kept up his woeful YPC performance (6-17) but his six carries were double the three bestowed upon Devontae Booker. Forsett continued to get opportunities despite his lost fumble as well, and he did have a 33 yard carry called back by penalty. I’d count on the gap being at least proportionate next week. Sorry, Booker owners. It’s time to start looking elsewhere if you survived this week’s dud. The team’s inability to move the ball on the ground ultimately cost them the game this week… so, I wouldn’t go jumping at the opportunity to use Forsett next week… I’d just steer clear of Booker.
  • With a winnable game against Jacksonville on the docket, it should be noted that Houston’s game script expressly limited Brock Osweiller pass attempts, even against a poor Indianapolis pass defense. Lamar Miller picked up a healthy 21 carries, as expected. But, they managed to find 16 carries (for 55 yards) for Alfred Blue as well… if you’re in a deep league or are desperate for a fill in, Blue could be a good bet for 10+ opportunities against the Jags as well.
  • Before getting over-hyped on J.J. Nelson‘s big game, bear in mind that a) Carson Palmer was terrible in this rainy contest and has been for much of the season and b) he had just three total opportunities. A carry, and two targets.
  • While some of his workload was likely a result of Darren Sproles‘ injury, it should be noted that Ryan Mathews had 15 carries in his return while Wendell Smallwood carried the ball just three times. If Sproles misses Week 15, Mathews becomes an intriguing play… though, the workload distribution in that backfield has been hard to trust all season.
  • With 13 targets (10 receptions) against Washington, Zach Ertz has now drawn double digit looks in three of his last four games. Trey Burton picked up 10 as well, with Brent Celek injured. Perhaps some of the volume was attributed to a limited number of options with Dorial Green-Beckham a game day deactivation, but Ertz is still a solid high-volume option going forward. Philadelphia draws an imposing Ravens defense that has allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to TEs this season, but he’ll be a certain TE1 all the same.
  • You don’t need this bullet to know he’s a warranted add, but with Melvin Gordon knocked out early, Kenneth Farrow carried the ball 16 times in a game that San Diego trailed throughout. He added six receptions on six targets, and will be a low RB2 / FLEX if Gordon misses any time. Dontrelle Inman led San Diego receivers with seven targets, and has become a regular on offense.
  • With Allen Hurns out of the lineup, Allen Robinson was the fifth most targeted Jaguar. Minnesota’s secondary has done a fine job of limiting receiver production this season, but when you’re getting out-targeted by Neal Sterling it’s hard to be productive. Robinson hasn’t topped 31 yards in a month and draws a tough WR matchup in the Houston Texans next week. Nope.
  • Bryce Petty targeted Robby Anderson 11 times (six receptions, 99 yards) against the 49ers. All told, he’s been his favorite target this season. The matchup on Saturday night against Miami isn’t expressly appealing, but it will be hard to keep Anderson out of your lineups. This week’s pass distribution wasn’t even close, with Quincy Enunwa drawing seven looks and Brandon Marshall five. Then, there’s this from Evan Silva:

  • Christine Michael was far from perfect, and Ty Montgomery continues to look like the best Green Bay running back, but it should be noted that Michael had 10 carries to lead the team. Montgomery was close behind with nine, but James Starks finished far back with just three totes. I likely wouldn’t use either Michael or Starks moving forward, but I’m certainly steering clear of Starks in all situations.
  • Tyler Lockett was quiet this week, but still drew a healthy six targets from Russell Wilson and had a few chances as a ball carrier, as well.
  • Doug Martin carried the ball 23 times against New Orleans, a week after there was evidently some thinking that he’d split carries. His dismal YPC didn’t get any better, (66 yards, 2.9) but he did help keep the Tampa offense rolling and he found the end zone. Charles Sims had four carries in relief, while Jacquizz Rodgers had two. Sims was targeted four times; Martin twice. As the former works his way back into game shape, I’d expect to see him eat into Martin’s workload to a degree, but this week shows you that that won’t be immediate. Use Martin as you typically would in the short term.
  • Paul Perkins looked live against the Cowboys, on a quiet day for the New York offense as a whole. While he matched Rashad Jennings in limited production, the difference in energy was observable. With 15 carries apiece, Perkins has taken on a greater share of the offense in recent weeks. The match ups aren’t particularly exciting to close the season (vs. Detroit and at Philadelphia) but if you’re in need of some unexpected volume…
  • I’ve been speaking about Kenneth Dixon taking over a more significant share of the carries in this space for the past month, and it finally happened against New England this week. All told, he carried the ball 11 times to just two for Terrance West. Further, Dixon held a 42-14 snap edge against the veteran back, with no apparent signs of injury impacting either party. On top of the carries, Dixon added eight receptions on 11 targets. I wouldn’t count on 20 carries every week, but I would view this as a sign that West’s days with significant workload are limited. Like Perkins, the matchups against the Eagles isn’t that appealing but if the workload keeps up the way it is trending, you’ll like him against Pittsburgh’s 4th most generous RB defense.

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